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AHeneen
06-05-2009, 01:05 AM
Pressure on Brown mounts as another minister quits
France24 (http://www.france24.com/en/20090605-gordon-brown-britain-minister-quits-scandal-purnell)

AFP - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was under severe pressure to resign as one of his ministers quit Thursday, urging Brown to step down.

James Purnell stepped down as work and pensions secretary with an open letter saying Brown's continued leadership would be "disastrous" for Britain.

Tipped as a rising star within the governing Labour Party and a possible future leader, Purnell is the fifth minister to quit in recent days -- the third at Cabinet level -- piling the pressure on Brown to go.

However, while the others were under fire in the ongoing row over lawmakers' lavish expenses claims, Purnell was not and is the first government member to resign calling openly for Brown's resignation.

News of Purnell's departure broke as polls closed Thursday in the European Parliament and English local elections, at which Brown's governing centre-left Labour Party is predicted to have been trounced.

Meanwhile an email letter was being circulated around his Labour Party's lawmakers calling for him to quit, while senior ministers were said to be unwilling to switch jobs in the looming Cabinet reshuffle.

In power since 1997, the Labour Party has borne the brunt of public outrage over lawmakers' dodgy expenses claims, a row made worse by the fact Britain is struggling to climb out of its worst recession in decades.

Speculation that Brown was preparing to step down -- dismissed as "complete nonsense" by his spokesman -- sent the British pound crashing against the euro and dollar.

Britain's finance minister for 10 years, Brown took over from Tony Blair as Labour leader and therefore prime minister in June 2007 and has since presided over the economic downturn.

Labour's rules make it very difficult to evict a sitting prime minister, though the party's lawmakers could make his position untenable through withdrawing their support.

"I now believe that your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more, not less, likely. That would be disastrous for our country," Purnell wrote in a letter published in The Times and The Sun newspapers.

"We need to show that we are prepared to fight to be a credible government and have the courage to offer an alternative future.

"I am therefore calling on you to stand aside to give our party a fighting chance of winning. As such I am resigning from government.

"I am not seeking the leadership nor acting with anyone else. My actions are my own considered view, and nothing more.

"If the consensus is that you should continue, then I will support the government loyally from the backbenches. But I do believe this question now needs to be put."

Brown was left "disappointed" by Purnell's departure and was now concentrating on "restructuring the government", a spokesman for his Downing Street office said.

"The prime minister is disappointed by the resignation of James Purnell, of which he was informed shortly before 10:00 pm (2100 GMT)," the spokesman said.

"His focus over the coming days will be on restructuring the government on the big challenges facing the country for the future: how we guide the economy through the downturn and strengthen it for the future; how we push ahead with reform of and investment in our public services; and how we renew trust in our democracy and parliament."

David Cameron, leader of the main opposition Conservatives, said Purnell's departure showed that the government was "falling apart in front of our eyes" and said the argument for Brown to call an immediate general election was now "completely unanswerable".

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, who faced criticism over her expenses, resigned on Wednesday, while Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she would step down at the reshuffle, which could happen as soon as Friday.

Addressed to the prime minister, the anonymous email letter being touted for signatures among Labour lawmakers suggests Brown "can best serve the Labour Party and the country by stepping down as party leader and prime minister".

Britain's 72 seats in the European parliament were up for grabs in Thursday's elections, while voters in various parts of England were also choosing 2,318 local councillors and three mayors.

The first local election results are expected Friday, while the European poll results are being held back till Sunday, in line with other EU countries.

Opinion polls suggest Labour could finish behind the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, and even fringe eurosceptics the United Kingdom Independence Party.

bijou
06-05-2009, 12:36 PM
He's now lost two more (Geoff Hoon and John Hutton). Roll on the elections. :D

Gingersnap
06-05-2009, 01:11 PM
What would this really do for the U.K.? Is there any hope at all of pushing back some of the more destructive Labour "reforms" at this point?

AHeneen
06-05-2009, 07:05 PM
What would this really do for the U.K.?

Not sure, but it certainly helps the more conservative opposition.


Is there any hope at all of pushing back some of the more destructive Labour "reforms" at this point?

Most likely not...but at least it will show us what will happen if we continue on our road to socialism.